An independent panel of analysts, created by law to protect California taxpayer interests, has concluded that President Obama's current plan to bring high-speed rail to the Golden State "is not financially feasible."
The California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group (CHSRPRG) released a report yesterday finding: "Absent a clearer picture of where future funding is going to come from, the Peer Review Group cannot at this time recommend that the Legislature approve the appropriation of bond proceeds for this project."
But the CHSRPRG has no actual power to stop the California legislature from issuing the first slate of $9 billion in bonds. And Gov. Jerry Brown has indicted he still plans to go through with the project.
And last night, Obama indicated he wants to double-down on the project. He told Iowa Democratic caucus-goers via satellite that "to make sure that everybody gets a fair shot" the federal government must invest in "our high-speed rail lines." Last month, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testified before Congress that Obama "won’t be dissuaded by the naysayers and the critics" and will spend $4 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds on the project.
When California voters were first sold the high-speed rail project, experts said it would cost only $33 billion. The California High-Speed Rail Authority now places that cost at $98 billion and the CHSRPRG says that cost is probably too low. Once the state exhausts the $9 billion in bonds mentioned above, and the $4 billion from U.S. taxpayers, the project will be broke. Voters in California now tell pollsters they are against the project and Republicans in Congress are also refusing any additional funding.
Obama's original high-speed rail plan included lines in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The governors of all those states have since concluded it would be a waste of tax payer money to continue the projects.